Although the summer season is still in full swing, many families are already in back-to-school mode. This time of year is often filled with anxiety as the more relaxed routines of summer break shift into the rhythm of a regular schedule. Fortunately, there are tips you can implement to ease into the school year and manage stress — both for yourself and your kids!
With that thought in mind, l wanted to share five back-to-school strategies.
1. Plan ahead.
Begin to talk about the upcoming school year and changes to your family’s schedule. Think beyond the school day and consider after-school care, sports practices, homework routines, and tutoring sessions too. Create a family calendar to help you track everyone’s activities. To stay organized, consider holding a family meeting and review your schedules each week.
Specifically, discuss the first day of school so your kids can feel prepared. If possible, ask their teacher for a class roster and connect with a few of their classmates prior to the first day (this exercise can really make a big difference if your child is attending a new school).
2. Adjust sleep schedules.
I can’t over-stress the importance of being well-rested as you tackle the first week of school. If your kids have been staying up late and/or sleeping in during the summer, it’s time to get them back on track! Plan to reset their sleep schedules two weeks before the first day of school. If needed, use a night light, white noise machine, and/or fan.
If you haven’t been reading over the summer (no judgment!), encourage your kids to read at least one book before bed. If needed, start your wind down period a bit earlier to allow for 15 to 20 minutes of reading.
3. Set-up a system for school lunches.
First, determine if your kids will be bringing or buying their lunch. You can review the school menu together and talk about the pros and cons of each choice. If they chose to take their lunch, involve them in the process. Ask for their input as you think through potential lunch menus — and ask for their help as you pack them each day!
Whenever possible, use reusable water bottles and bags to protect the environment. You can also buy family-size boxes of snacks, like Goldfish or Pirate’s Booty, and portion them out for lunch.
4. Get organized.
A little organization goes a long way! For kid-friendly solutions, add a shoe basket or low hooks to your entryway. Create a homework space and ensure that they have everything they need, from pencils and erasers to extra paper and crayons. Create a special spot in their closet with their “school clothes.” Pick out their outfits the night before (even their socks and shoes!) to lessen the morning chaos.
Once you have systems in place, involve your kids! As part of their after-school routine, ask them to put their shoes away and hang up their backpacks. Or encourage them to throw their dirty clothes in the hamper and pull out the next day’s outfit before bedtime.
5. Talk about their feelings.
Most importantly, give them a safe space to share their thoughts. Are they nervous or excited? Maybe they’re feeling unsure. Remind them that all of their feelings are okay! You can share a story about your own first day jitters or teach them mindfulness practices to help them stay calm. Even a few deep breaths can be helpful!